I am getting tired of going to unproductive networking events. Why? Because so many people just don’t practice good networking skills. Sometimes I just want to say….It is NOT about YOU! The dreaded elevator “pitches'” are so self-serving and the conversations so meaningless. Please tell me something about yourself that is interesting to me or how you can help me. But that would require listening, a great skill to have, but sometimes difficult to put into practice.
I go to networking events because I do want to meet people, learn more about their products and services and get to know them better. That is how networking is supposed to work if done right.
Stop yourself from making some of these common “never-do” mistakes and you will find that your networking productivity will increase substantially in terms of growing your lead database and establishing better relationships.
- Never have an agenda. Have a networking objective but not an agenda. An objective is something you want to accomplish that will be mutually advantageous to you and the person you are talking to. An agenda is only for your benefit and others will see right through that.
- Don’t monopolize the conversation, other people have contributions to make to the conversation too. Ask some questions and interact with others. Learn more about who you are talking to and this will enable you to share your expertise in a way that will be more useful to that person.
- Don’t stay in one place. Mingle and meet people. It is so easy to find someone to talk to and get too comfortable. The problem with that is you don’t get to circulate. It may be helpful if you prepare yourself ahead of time with some interesting questions to help you get some conversations started. Then, know how to gracefully exit a conversation and move on.
- Don’t look around the room when you are talking to someone. What kind of message do you think you are sending? That the person you are talking to is not interesting enough? Or not important enough for your attention? During the short time you are talking to anyone, it is important to show interest, establish eye contact and give them your full attention.
- Don’t just exchange business cards. Have a meaningful conversation so you actually get to know the person you are talking too. Also write something on the back to remind you about the conversation you had. This will enable you to be more personal when you follow-up.
- Oh yeah…….as I have said before, don’t flop the follow-up! You should follow-up with everyone you exchange cards with, especially if you have established a next step. Since most people don’t practice the art of the follow-up, this will distinguish you from the others in a networking situation. But don’t be spam. Definitely share what’s going on with your company occasionally, but whatever your follow-up strategy is, don’t bombard with promotions about your product or service. Think about how you can add value, provide advice, make an introduction or something that is useful for the other person. What better way to build and grow a relationship than by helping out in some way.
- And don’t just talk about yourself and how great you are. No one really cares. But, be genuine about how you can help others. There is a difference.
So, I am curious……What is your experience with networking? What other never-dos should people avoid when networking?
If you want to put together a powerful networking strategy to get better results, check out the Network PRo Toolkit.
If you like this post, feel free to share with your network using one of the social platforms below.